Archive for December, 2008

Moments

Really been focusing on moments throughout this holiday season…

Sitting with my sister-in-law around my dad’s table.  Eating Italian take-out, laughing about growing older, sharing craft and sewing ideas.

Watching my kids open their gifts to each other this year … simple, inexpensive … but drenched with anticipation and excitement and joy of the sharing of experience and life.

Discussing movies with my brother … getting his ideas, listening to his reflections, able to “argue” with him and still be OK.

Smiling as Ethan bounds to basketball practice, seeking acceptance from his coach, who already thinks Ethan’s a great kid.  Starting to see the man this little boy is becoming.

Seeing my husband’s chest rise and fall as he sleeps soundly and securely beside me in the early morning light.

Gathered around a table tonight at a friend’s home, eating bar cheese and sipping White Zinfandel and laughing … them in their early twenties, just beginning their “adult” lives, me wandering through my mid-forties, just drinking in their laughter and their friendship and our lives together.

Watching “The Little Mermaid” with the family (minus Ethan, who’s at an overnight), and just smiling as they laugh out loud, just like when they were all little.

The more I notice and drink in moments, the richer I am.  The more I laugh, the more I live.  The more I look for beauty in small, “insignificant” things, the more rewarded I become.  This holiday season has taught me much, and it’s had very little to do with Christmas.

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Some Christmas Thoughts

We had a great day.  I can’t remember when I laughed so much on Christmas day.  My kids are a joy, and as they grow and continue becoming who they are and will be, I find ecstasy in their becoming.  Both dads visited, and we feasted on fondue and life and laughter and love.

I am very ambivalent about this holiday anymore.  I’ve seen “religious” people misconstrue and attempt to make it something historically it is not.  I’ve seen other friends give themselves over to the “need” to spend money they don’t have, in hopes of creating or changing things that have very little to do with consumerism.  For me, I’ve decided that Christmas is a time of realizing the blessings in my life — my family, my friends, my opportunity to live a life that makes a difference in the here and now.  We can mark it however we wish; at the end of the day, neither the religious or secular “own” the day — it is ours to celebrate as we will.

I came across a “new” quote for me:

William James once said, “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

May this be the year I stop simply rearranging my prejudices in every area of my life, and truly think, listen, learn, love.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Turmoil in his wake

First off, I love my dad.  He’s a great guy, as anyone who knows him will attest.  There isn’t often he pisses me off to the point that I feel like I need a literary vent concerning the situation.  Tonight is one of those exceptions.

I love talking to my dad.  He gets lonely (although he’d never admit it), and a long phone call makes him feel better.  Me?  I absolutely hate talking on the phone, but for Dad, I make the exception (and for a few other good friends!).  Tonight he called, to let me know they may be a change of plans for this weekend, which is fine.  But in the course of our forty minute conversation, he tried to get me to talk negatively about three or four different relatives.

He gets these ideas in his head … like my daughter takes an hour in the bathroom in the morning (she doesn’t).  Or the “financial” situations of various people we know.  Or he “hears just fine,” even though I’m still yelling at him to get him to understand me on the phone.

For whatever reason, he gains enjoyment from yanking people’s chain.  And he does it most with me, because I won’t react back.  He’ll go on and on, trying to get me to say something.  Tonight, I did.  I defended my daughter, and then he tried to make a joke out of it.

So me hating to talk on the phone combined with his desire to just piss me off made for frustrating conversation tonight.

I’m trying to cut him a lot of slack.  He’s old.  He’s lonely.  He’s a great guy 95% of the time, and I’m reminding myself of that even as I’m writing.

But what gives old people the perceived “right” to cause havoc and mayhem, then sit back just to enjoy the show?  What sickness overtakes them that they conveniently “forget” how most of life runs, start imposing their own rules on the people that love them the most, and then turn inward so that their “reality” has very little to do with anyone but themselves?

You know, we have a lot of good conversations.  My dad is wise, and he tells great stories.  He does a lot of interesting things still, and I’m always anxious to ask him what’s going on — even though he rarely asks me the same, and acts inconvenienced at my family’s busy life.  I ‘ll ask him, “Dad, remember when I was a kid?  You were working, Mom was working … everything was spinning around all the time.”  He says he remembers, but then he’ll go on into whatever he was saying before.

I just gotta take a breath.  Nothing changes — but I wonder if it’s his passive/aggressive way of acting because we recently borrowed some money from him — money he offered and offered and offered again.  He has a way of stating his mind — regardless of who he hurts or who is spins around him.  I’m trying to be OK with it all — I’m just angry and confused right now.

But tomorrow will be another day.  I’ll let it go — I need to for my own sanity and for the love of my Dad.  Still, I wish I could figure out his “need” to cause mayhem wherever he goes …

Pressing On

So, Friday was my last day working at Starbuck’s.  There’s a new company policy that says you are “part-time” if you work three shifts during the week, or 16 hours on the weekend.  Well, I’ve done that gig before.  And that, combined with homeschooling four children, teaching at support group, helping ferry the kids to their numerous “things” (right now — basketball, teen choir, birthday parties, visiting friends), and helping the big boy get ready for his time in Chicago, and scholarships, and … you get the picture.

Starbuck’s was an absolute live saver for me.  I came into the job about a year after we moved to our current location.  As I’ve written over and over again, no part of me wanted to be here.  It was a bad break up from our last community; it was a lot of crap between the spouse and me; I was so trying to find myself amidst the carnage.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted — but I wanted something, anything that was different than I had.

Along came my life as a coffee maven.  I really enjoyed the challenge.  The work was simple.  But the experience, the knowledge, was something new for me.  I embraced the “Starbuck’s culture,” and it embraced me.  It wasn’t always fun, but a lot of good things came from my time there:

* I learned I could “make it” outside the four walls of organized religion just fine, thank you very much.  My job helped me overcome my religiously altered reality about “those people,” and helped me really start caring about people again.

*I learned that’s it’s OK to enjoy some of the “finer” things in life.  That I didn’t have to settle for “crap coffee,” or superficial conversations, or just finding out about religious things.  There is a huge, beautiful, scary, fascinating and amazing world and Starbuck’s is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

*I learned that I can be “someone” apart from my husband and kids.  That people could like me, not because they had to, but because the simply did.starbucks-1

*I learned that there really isn’t an “us” or a “them”.  There is a “we,” and we share this life and share love and share the earth and it’s best time we stop drawing so many lines of difference, and start drawing more circles of inclusion.

*I also learned that things come and go.  And right here, right now, is my time to leave Starbuck’s.  It’s time to come into something else, whatever that else might be.  Time will tell.  I’ll let you know.

So now, I’m traveling on.  I’m laying low over the holidays — actually, that’s not true.  I’ve already taken a test to possibly work with the Census this spring.  And if that doesn’t work out, I’ll probably be writing for a local newspaper.  Or working on that next book.  Or … we’ll see.  As crazy as it seems, I’m pretty happy with the person I’ve become, and the person I’m becoming.  I’m not there, by any means.  But the journey I’m on is filled with interesting people, great opportunities, and the ability to tell good coffee from crappy stuff 🙂